SNP councillors in Aberdeenshire have succeeded in their bid to give local communities a direct route to influence the priorities of local government.
At Thursday’s meeting of the Full Council, a motion from the SNP Group seeking the establishment of a Public Petitions Committee was agreed by councillors. The idea is similar to that which has been in operation successfully at the Scottish Parliament for many years.
SNP Group Leader Cllr Joanna Strathdee (Huntly, Strathbogie & Howe of Alford) said: “I’m delighted that the Administration Group on Aberdeenshire Council have backed the SNP’s proposal.
“I said after last month’s Full Council meeting that the SNP in Aberdeenshire will support good ideas which make life better for our citizens regardless of which party proposes them, and I hope the other parties view our suggestions in the same light.
“This is an exciting opportunity to not only make local government more accessible to our communities but also for Aberdeenshire Council to adopt a process which, if implemented correctly, will lead to a re-engagement of communities with the council.
“For many of Aberdeenshire’s residents, the Council seems to be a body which is separate from their daily lives and not relevant to them. That is something we in the SNP want to change.
“As part of our plans to listen more closely to those who live and work in Aberdeenshire we included a commitment in our manifesto to create a new committee – a petitions committee – to provide people with the means to raise concerns directly into the decision-making process of their Council and ensure their voices are heard.”
SNP councillor Graeme Clark (Stonehaven & Lower Deeside) added: “This is an idea whose time has come. The Petitions Committee in the Scottish Parliament has been one of its success stories.
“Clearly, there are many ways in which members of the public can raise issues with the council, be it through letters, e-mails, or meeting with a councillor. However, there are few ways in which an individual or group can bring a matter of concern before the council in a manner which demonstrates the breadth of opinion behind it.
“The Petitions Committee will allow direct public access to the heart of the decision-making process and serve as a reminder to officials and elected councillors alike who we are here to serve and represent.”